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Myanmar: Media organisations shut down by military, offices raided; IFJ calls for UN investigation

Image: A Myanmar policeman chases a journalist holding a camera. Credit: Facebook

(IFJ)Media organisations across Myanmar were ordered to close by the Myanmar Military Council on Monday, March 8 including Myanmar Now who had their offices raided that night. The IFJ condemns the Myanmar Now raid and urge the military to allow the media to operate without interference.

Soldiers and police raided local media outlet Myanmar Now’s headquarters, seizing computers and part of the newsroom’s data server, among other equipment. The publication, which has provided extensive coverage of the protests and regularly scrutinised the military, evacuated their offices on January 28 as a precautionary measure, due to the possibility of a coup intensifying. It is the first targeted attack on a media publication since the February 1 coup, on a day which also saw the storming of hospitals by authorities.

On March 8, five major media outlets also had their licenses cancelled in Myanmar, all of which have provided extensive coverage of the ongoing coup. These companies – including Mizzima, DVB, Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now and 7DayNews are “no longer allowed to broadcast or write or give information by using any kind of media platform or using any media technology”, announced the military.

Since the military coup on February 9, reports estimate between 22 and 25 journalists have been arrested, including media workers from the Associated Press, Myanmar Now and 7Day News. In total, 1,200 citizens have been detained by the junta and at least 50 people killed since February 1 according to the United Nations Special Envoy on Myanmar.

In response to the arrest of journalists in Myanmar, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) affiliate, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia and Malaysia’s Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) called for international action to end the violence in Myanmar.The joint statement between AJI and Geramm urges Myanmar authorities to immediately release the detained journalists.

AJI and Geramm said: “We call upon the Indonesian and Malaysian government to work together with Asean countries in order to support the United Nations to send its investigation team to Myanmar.”

The IFJ said: “By limiting the information and ability of journalists to report, the true extent of the atrocities committed against journalists and the public remains unknown. The IFJ condemns the renewed attack on journalists and supports the call for the United Nations to send an investigative team to Myanmar to uncover and report on the conditions.”

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